by Phil Simon, Marketing and Promotions Communications Managing Director
Google Earth’s new AIA Layer, launched April 24, has set the stage for AIA members at all levels to engage the public in a conversation about architecture that will give people everywhere a better appreciation of what architects do.
First, there is the “wow” factor of Google Earth. If you haven’t tried it, do. Just as the potato chip ad dared us to try to eat just one, I’d provide this (more as advice than a dare): Don’t go into Google Earth if you’ve only got five minutes till your next meeting. It is that much fun to fly from point to point—anywhere on Earth. And there are enough places with high-resolution photos in the database that you will certainly feel compelled to find your own house and try to figure out about when the satellite image was taken.
Now, with the AIA Layer, you can also visit the 150 projects selected by the public for America’s Favorite Architecture exhibit that will be at the AIA 2007 National Convention and Exposition May 3-5 in San Antonio. Zoom down into San Diego to see the Hotel Coronado or across to Colorado Springs to fly around the Air Force Academy Chapel. Jump to Eureka Springs, Ark., and visit Thorncrown Chapel, or head to D.C. and do some “site-seeing” there.
Now, imagine 200 million other people, most who will recognize at least some of the 150 buildings and recognize their value as places—experiences—in their own lives. As they make the connection between architecture and what it means on a personal level, then think of the second aspect of the new layer as it was launched: 34 (and growing) Blueprint for America projects, through which people can see how architects are (or could be) working with local citizens to help make their communities better places to live. As the list of offerings grows (anyone can post projects created through SketchUp), the potential for educating the public expands in kind.
Go take a global fly-over and tell us …
What do you think?